And the beat goes on for the Marquis of Granby

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Photo by Kent McCord

Shannon McCord leading Zoom practice.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Adjusting to the new normal, the Marquis of Granby Ancient Junior Fyfe and Drum Corps has been marching on. Much more quietly, and without its well-known pageantry, but marching on, nonetheless. Weekly practices have been occurring using web conferencing tools since the end of March, with creative guidance from the corps’ director and other board members. 

The musicians have not missed a beat with most able to attend practice every week. As a parent of a beginner drummer, it has been uplifting to see the group maintain its caring ways. The older members offer support and tutelage to the less experienced musicians at every opportunity. Playing their instruments in their bedrooms, kitchens, basements or backyards, weather (and neighbors) permitting, the kids are apart yet together, committed to learning and practicing. And although marching practice has been suspended, the board, with the junior board members’ input, is brainstorming how to best resume musket drills.

The dedication of the teachers deserves mention. While the more experienced musicians are able to work on more challenging pieces in smaller online practice groups, the newer members have been able to schedule lessons with their fyfe or drum teacher and receive flexible individualized instruction. Hats off to the instructors for their ability to adapt and help the kids stay focused and motivated.

Without any parades in their immediate future, it can be difficult to stay motivated. Beginning with the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade on March 22, eight events in the corps’ busy calendar have been canceled, and more cancellations are expected. In its 50 years of existence, Marquis has never seen such significant loss in revenue. As of the time of this writing, it is hard to know what the future will look like. When will the corps be able to march all together again, performing its signature maneuvers in streets lined with audiences? Soon, we all hope. And thanks to the support of the community and the dedication of all involved, the strength of this unique organization and its mission are here to stay.